Sunday, March 28, 2010

COMIC REVIEW: The Darkness: Origins, Vol. 1 (Top Cow)


The Darkness is one of those characters that I feel like I know something about, even though I've never picked up a Darkness book. With all of the reading I do about comics, that happens to me all the time. When I found out there was a book about the character's origins, I decided it was something I needed to read. Though this is not normally my cup of tea in art style or in story, I'm glad I took the time to read it. Garth Ennis and Marc Silvestri have put together an epic origin story that is a good jumping on point for anyone who is curious about this indie icon.


For the uninitiated, here's the basic info you need to know about the Darkness: Jackie Estacado, on his 21st birthday, learns that he has inherited dark powers from his father. These powers allow him to do pretty much whatever he wants, as long as he gives in to the darkness that holds them. Jackie is a mob hitman and a playboy. His new powers help him with the first part. The second? Well, that's another story. The curse of having his new powers is that if he conceives a child, he will die, passing along the power to the child. Oh yeah, and there's Angelus--the light being determined to destroy the Darkness in the hopes of ruling with light, law and love (for her, of course).

About the only other Ennis I've read is his work on Punisher a few years ago, so this makes the second time that Ennis brought me to a character I wouldn't have otherwise had any interest in. He mixes gritty mob violence with supernatural violence and sometimes witty dialogue. (My favorite line was when someone describes the Darkness' power as "the Force on crack".) Reading this book, I got the impression that inheriting this power is actually going to make him a better person, which is saying a lot, considering he's essentially a demon. Lucky for us, he only makes bad things happen to bad people.

Silvestri is best known to me as one of the guys who helped start Image Comics, and for that I am eternally grateful to the guy. Though I didn't really read a lot of early Image, I am fully supportive of their current titles (I'm looking at you, Walking Dead, The Sword, the currently on hiatus Madman Atomic Comics). Silvestri's art has that '90s feel to me: a lot of lines, lots of girls in thongs and metallic looking bras, and lots of little monsters with sharp teeth. It's not a knock against the style at all. Silvestri is a great artist and very successful at what he does; it's just not my style. That being said, I think it works here. The Darkness got its start in the latter part of the '90s, so you get that same feeling from this book you might have back then.

This book was definitely something that should be on a required reading list for anyone interested in comics. If you're like me and it's not something you'd normally pick up, I encourage you to give it a try.

Stacey Rader
Review Editor

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